The Association of International Educators has honored the University of Arizona with the Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award for its initiatives in expanding global networks and partnerships in higher education.
With nearly 10,000 members, the association, known as NAFSA, is the world's largest nonprofit professional association dedicated to international education.
NAFSA announced five winners of the Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization, and in addition to the UA, recognized two other institutions with the Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award.
Named for the late Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., the spotlight award recognizes outstanding and innovative achievements in campus internationalization.
The comprehensive internationalization award recognizes institutions for their planned, strategic integration of international, intercultural and global dimensions into the ethos and outcomes of higher education. The integration must involve active and responsible engagement of the academic community in global networks and partnerships.
The UA was recognized for its Latin American Research Program, or "Verano de Investigación," a program that trains undergraduate students on research methodology and prepares them for graduate studies in the U.S. while helping them perfect their English language skills.
The program recruits science and engineering majors from universities in Latin America, and during the last six years, 72 undergraduate Latin American students (36 men and 36 women) from 12 universities in Mexico and Colombia have participated in the program.
The participants are selected and sponsored by their own universities and gain six research units of credit as they conduct research under the tutelage of a UA faculty mentor.
"This type of collaboration and outreach is indispensable to build closer ties between the UA and universities Mexico, our closest neighbor, and the rest of Latin America with which we share many historical, cultural and linguistic bonds as well as economic relations. Our university is proud to have a role in educating these students since many are likely to be future leaders in their professions and in their countries," said Maria Teresa Velez, associate dean of the UA Graduate College.
Velez, is the director of the UA's Latin American Research Program, which she founded in 2007 in a partnership with the Universidad de Guanajuato in Mexico. The program is housed at the UA Graduate College and is part of series of internationally collaborative programs the UA has initiated.
Looking ahead, Velez said the UA is working on implementing a winter research program for the government of Chile. Chile's Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica/the National Commission for Science and Technology Research has asked the UA Graduate College to create a similar program for 30 Chilean upper-division undergraduates. The program, dubbed "Invierno de Investigación" or Winter Research Program, will focus on solar and renewable energy projects, areas of great interest to both UA and Chile.
The UA and the other institutions selected for the internationalization awards this year will be featured in the Association for International Educators report, "Internationalizing the Campus: Profiles of Success at Colleges and Universities," to be published this fall, and honored at an event in Washington, D.C., in November during International Education Week.